Stephenson, Moe earn Pelican AAA awards
A pair of Pelican Rapids High School bandmates, both high academic and athletic performers, have earned the annual AAA honors at Pelican Rapids High School.
The 2022 Academics, Arts, Athletics Award winners Sam Moe and Tori Stephenson have been active across the spectrum of high school life—from theater to target shooting.
The purpose of the AAA program is to recognize and honor high school seniors who have excelled in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the fine arts. The honor is intended to elevate academic standards while supporting and promoting extracurricular achievements.
Honorees are limited to two qualifying students per school–one male and one female.
Academics—and welding—bolster broad experiences
With a grade point average of 3.98, Sam Moe has challenged himself with a conscious effort to broaden his academic experience.
He plans to attend North Dakota State University, and his music background may be continued in the NDSU bands.
He values science and math classes, but also wanted to expand his horizons with courses in welding, photography and robotics.
“I have learned various types of welding such as shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding and how to operate the cutting torch. My plan is to weld steel legs for our dining table,” said Moe, of his plans to apply skills at a practical level.
In the mass communications class, he digitally creates while also using humor and personal skills, creating skits and interviewing for monthly news programs.
He’s also taken business classes. “These varied courses have broadened my experiences prior to choosing a major in college,” said Moe.
Music has been constant for Moe since grade 3
Moe started playing the piano in third grade and the trumpet beginning in fifth grade.
“I have found music to be a passion and release for me. From plunking out songs on the piano to playing trivia with friends, “What movie is this song from?” said Moe.
In band, he has learned about composers, scores, received individual lessons, and performed a solo at a recent band concert. Concert band, wind ensemble, and pep band have kept him musically active, and he has been first chair in seven out of eight years in band.
“I will forever have music in my life,” said Moe, who has played his trumpet in church, at Trinity Lutheran. He has also been active in church youth activities at Trinity.
Attending NDSU opens up the possibility of playing in the Gold Star Marching Band, though he is still undecided.
Running helps focus on personal goals, performance
Cross country and track have helped Moe focus on individual growth and improvement. In addition to running fundamentals and skill, the individual sport focuses on performance and seeking personal bests.
But the team aspect of cross country running is also important.
In cross country, he was voted most improved in eighth and ninth grade and was awarded the Viking “Grit” award in tenth grade. He was captain of the team as a junior and senior.
In track and field, he earned coach’s award for his junior season. Weight lifting has been an off season endeavor for Moe.
In his busy schedule, he also participates with the clay target shooting team in the spring.
Pelican’s ethnic diversity has been benefit
“My involvement in the arts, athletics, and academic has transformed me as a person,” concluded Moe. “I have been able to achieve a good work ethic throughout my years in high school.”
Being a section leader in bands has been leadership training for younger musicians.
“It has also been a lot of fun through sports to be able to participate with a diverse group of athletes,” said Moe. “Not every school has this type of diversity which allowed me to learn about other peoples experiences and share my own.”
Challenged by academics, as well as arts and athletics
Barely below a perfect 4.0 grade point average, at 3.996, Tori Stephenson is on course to graduate near the top—if not at the top—of the Pelican Class of 2022.
Her post-high school path is still evolving, but she is considering business-marketing-finance. Recently accepted at the Carlson School of Management, U of M-Twin Cities, she may follow her sister’s footsteps. Sister Anna, a 2021 Pelican grade, is in her first year at the Carlson school.
Though performing equally well in the science-related academics, Stephenson said she has always had an interest in business, and the Carlson school is a logical choice.
She continually challenges herself, including taking two college courses over a shortened summer semester.
“College classes isn’t what most teenagers think of when they think of summer, but I am very grateful that I did. It gave me the opportunity to continue my educational growth past May, and challenge myself at a harder level of academia.”
Being a student in the summer also helped strengthen her brain, further preparing her for a senior year filled with challenging college classes.
Arts involvement includes band and theater
“The fine arts is something that I believe most students overlook and disregard, but my participation has truly been only a positive and enriching experience,” said Stephenson.
Participating in band for years has fostered music appreciation, and also, “the beautiful sound of collaboration.”
“Trying something new, like Speech or the One Act Play, was a little scary and nerve-wracking to me at first. Once I became comfortable, I learned so many new things and had fun during every single moment. Being involved in the fine arts has encouraged me to seek out different activities and welcome a new challenge,” said Stephenson.
A saxophone player in band, she has also played in church, at Faith Lutheran in Pelican Rapids.
On the court, and the track and field, Stephenson has excelled
An athlete with the highly successful Pelican girls basketball program, which earned trips to the state tourney two years in a row, exposed her to both team traditions —and little quirks. Evolving from a shy freshman to a strong senior—she is now leading those same traditions.
This leadership is and has always been a cornerstone of the program, she noted. Her own personal leadership and confidence have grown in the process
Track and field has always been her favorite sport. Life lessons were gained, including coping with losing her sophomore season due to COVID-19. The feeling of team and family is emphasized strongly in track, which motivated her to turn her junior season into “something special.”
“I consistently improved my times and earned sixth place at the state meet. Track has show me how to bounce back strong after a difficult setback and has truly given me some of the best experiences in my life,” said Stephenson.
Pelican experiences teach important life lessons
With a love for education, she goes to school anxious to learn new things every day.
“Challenging myself with difficult, college-level classes has taught me to work hard and that putting in the extra effort is worth it,” said Stephenson.
The arts also taught her important life lessons. One Act Play helped her get out of a “comfort zone,” though it can be intimidating. Being involved in varsity Speech taught her confidence. She has played the saxophone since elementary school, and “band has given me great friendships with people I would never have gotten to know otherwise.”
The three sports taught her how to be a “kind teammate, a good sport, and a competitive player.”
“My high school life has been devoted to academics, the arts, and athletics,” she concluded. “I am so thankful for how all of these things have shaped me into the person I am proud to be today.”